IKEA Sells Meatballs of a Equine Variety
The crisis over horse meat in consumer products continues, as the Swedish furniture giant Ikea withdraws meatballs from sale in 14 countries. Authorities in the Czech Republic originally detected the horse meat in the Ikea meatballs, which were labeled as pork and beef.
Ikea released a statement announcing that it was stopping sales of meatballs "in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland." Ikea said that U.S. stores won't be affected by the recall, as they get their processed meat domestically.
The scandal quickly spread from Ireland, to Britain, and now it is steadily engulfing the continent. A dozen countries have been affected, drawing attention to a complex and problem ridden chain of processed food that can be traced to the inhumane slaughtering of American horses in foreign countries.
By Paul Breer
Burger King Found to be King of Horse Ranch As Well
Amid an outcry of disgust, Burger King acknowledged this week that burgers sold in Ireland and Britain contained horse meat. The news officially broke in mid-January by Irish food safety officials when they found that out of 27 beef burgers sampled, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA.
Following an investigation into Silvercrest, who provided meat to every Burger King in the U.K., Denmark and Ireland, the Irish subsidiary of ABP Food Group was found to be mixing horse meat into its beef. Burger King has since switched to a different food supplier and released this statement:
Within the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. They promised to deliver 100% British & Irishbeef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.
What isn't stated here is that the horse mixed into the meat sold to Burger King came from the United States. Be it as a delicacy in a French restaurant in Scotland (called "saucisson de cheval") or covertly put into burger meat to make it look more red and lean, American horses are being inhumanely slaughtered for human consumption overseas and it needs to stop.
By Paul Breer
Horse Slaughter Plant Planned for Oregon
While the residents of Moutain Grove, Missouri, have rejected a recent propsal for a horse slaughter plant in their town, Oregon could be the site of a new plant. The project's organizer, Dave Duquette, said the plant would be located on 250 acres of land in Hermiston, where 100 horses per day would be slaughtered. The plant would be funded by private investors and possibly Native American tribes from the area.
Duquette touted that the new plant would incorporate an onsite equine “Rescue and Rejuvenation Program.” This program would accept abandoned horses, horses seized by animal control in cruelty cases, and those given to the program for a multitude of different reasons. Horses in the program would be seen by an equine professional and judged for trainability and soundness. If the horse is deemed trainable, the horse will be placed in permanent homes. However, horses that are too old, dangerous, or too ill would be processed.
Jo Dibel, the founder and director of Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue, says that the premise of being both a horse processing plant and an organization touting sound equine welfare are conflicting concepts:
I personally believe that the 'rescue and rejuvenation' touted … is a complete farce [because] horse slaughter is not humane euthanasia. Any program that touts horse slaughter as a pleasant or wonderful experience for the horse is not acting in the best interest of the horses or their owners.
Another conflicting factor is that this plant is going to have to make a profit and there would be a real disincentive to give away horses to be rehomed. Rather than look out for the welfare of horses, there would instead be an increased incentive to deem a horse ill, dangerous or too old. So that horse could be slaughtered and sold overseas. Generally, a for-profit ambition will outweigh a non-profit mission, and we would be naive to think otherwise.
By Paul Breer
Horse Trainers Indicted On Violating Horse Protection Act
Jackie McConnell, a well-known Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, and several of his co-workers have been indicted on 52 counts of violating the federal Horse Protection Act, as well as many sections of the Tennessee Cruelty to Animals statute. Prosecutors allege that McConnell put prohibited substances, such as mustard oil, on their horses in order to improve their performance in competitions.
As allegedly conducted by McConnell and his associates, trainers sometimes spray harmful chemicals on the horses' front legs (known as soring) to cause them to take higher steps in competitions. The Tennessee Walking Horse is characterized by its high-stepping gait. So to make the horse step higher by applying painful chemicals would mean better show performances and more money for McConnell and his co-workers. But the fact of the matter is that soring is a cruel practice that has been illegal under the federal Horse Protection Act for 40 years.
The criminal charges also come as an expansive investigation into the walking horse industry is being conducted by the Humane Society. Here is Keith Dane, director of equine protection at the Humane Society:
The cruel training methods documented throughout our investigation are sickening to watch for any horse lover, and show the immense suffering horses often endure simply for the sake of a high-stepping gait. Horses entertain us and provide us companionship, and should not be subject to this horrible cruelty and abuse.
Prosecutors allege the soring conspiracy began in 2006 and continued through September 2011, with the most recent event ocurring at the Spring Fun Show in May 2011. If convicted, McConnell and his associates could face a maximum of three years in prison for each felony and one year for each misdemeanor.
By Paul Breer
Horse Slaughter Plant To Be Opened In Missouri
To the disappointment of many residents, Unified Equine is planning to open up a horse meat processing plant in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis (R) formed the company immediately after federal legislation brought back the USDA's ability to inspect horse slaughter plants in late 2011. Willis picked Missouri because she believes that Missourians are "100 percent on board with" horse slaughter.
However, as the Ozark news KY3 reports, many locals do not feel comfortable with the idea at all. Danita McCaig, a Mountain Grove resident, thinks "it would be horrible":
Everywhere you go, everybody's talking about it, the slaughter plant coming in. It's sad they picked Mountain Grove to do something like that in, because basically, we have a good little town here, and I'm not originally from here. I'm a transplant, but I still have pride in the town, and I don't want it abused.
And McCaig's opinion is not only local but national, as a poll found that 70 percent of Americans support a ban on horse slaughter. Besides Wallis' fabrication that Missourians support horse slaughter, she hints at a much greater myth in her interview with KY3:
The horses that are processed -- it's just like cattle or hogs or sheep. You don't want starving, abused horses. You want horses that are in good shape.
This industry-held justification that they help by slaugtering the nation's starving, neglected horses can be proven false both logically and factually. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 92.3 percent of horses that are slaughtered for human consumption are in "good," not bad, condition, which is counter to the industry's justification for slaughter. Further, this makes logical sense because healthy horses have more meat and will in turn make more money. Horses that are "starving," as Willis mentions, are not moneymakers. So the facts show that in wanting to make money, the industry will seek the healthiest horses they can find.
Unified Equine is currently studying how well the company will fit in in Missouri, but all indications are that the plant will open up within a year. However, you could help inform Willis' company that horse slaughter is not welcome by contacting her.
By Paul Breer
Horse Trainer Turned Traitor
Kelsey Lefever, a local horse trainer in Chester county, Pennsylvania, volunteered to take care of two retired racehorses, promising the former owners that they would be well taken care of. However, state police say 24 year old Lefever then sold the two thoroughbreds days later at the New Holland Auction to be slaughtered for human consumption in Canada.
Police have charged Lefever with theft and fraud. Because of her lack of criminal history, though, Lefever was offered and agreed to enter the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first time offenders on Feb. 22, 2012, and will avoid jail time. But, as a condition of the deal, Lefever is barred from working at racetracks and owning new horses for two years.
Even Lefever's lawyer commented on how this case is a travesty for the horse industry:
It`s an unfortunate case, within the horse racing industry, and the horse industry itself. This is like the uncle in the basement that is downstairs beating on pots and pans but we don`t talk about him a whole lot.
This is not a onetime event for Lefever. According to her affidavit, she allegedly told her friends that she sold as many as 120 horses to the same auction, which were all taken for slaughter. Lefever's formal arraignment is scheduled for April 19 and she plans on pleading not guilty.
By Paul Breer
A Brutal Retirement To Our Noble Friends
Against 18-1 odds at the 1986 Kentucky Derby, a racehorse named Ferdinand was instructed by his jockey to make an extremely daring move. Ferdinand was held back until the last few crucial seconds of the race and THEN asked to run his heart out. Ferdinand’s aggressive-ability to ambush through a wall of galloping horses crowned him champion of the Kentucky Derby that day. Ferdinand later won the “Horse of the Year” award in 1987, and after winning only 8 races, he earned well over 4 million dollars for his owners.
However, Ferdinand was not given the respect he earned on that fateful race day. Ferdinand was slaughtered in 2002 and eaten by humans as a delicacy in Japan. Sadly, horse-slaughter is the tragic ending for more than HALF of all racehorses. According to a Colorado State University study, of 1,348 horses sent to slaughter, 58 were former racehorses. Ferdinand was not the only famous racehorse sent to slaughter. A million-dollar racehorse named Exceller, who was inducted into the National Racing Museum's Hall of Fame, was killed at a slaughterhouse in Sweden.
Here's PETA in how you can help stop the brutal slaughter of American racehorses:
Please sign the petition asking the Jockey Club to adopt the Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle Fund, a PETA proposal aimed at helping racehorses who face slaughter. PETA is asking that horse owners and breeders be required to pay a $360 fee for every new foal registration, ownership transfer, or stallion or broodmare registration. This fund could generate more than $20 million every year to help retire racehorses rather than slaughtering them.
But it's important to note, racehorses aren't the only horses in trouble. Every breed, size, and shape is at risk.
End Horse Slaughter
Pony Savers aims to inform the nation of the brutal practices slaughterhouses employ when harvesting American horses for human consumption overseas.